The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.
The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy launched an ambitious initiative in the fall of 2019 to advance the renewal of rights and responsibilities in the United States. The initiative aims to develop research and policy recommendations around six broad themes of concern: democratic process; due process of law; equal protection; freedom of speech, religion, and association; human sustainability; and privacy.
In the most recent Carr Center Discussion Paper, Mathias Risse looks at the Pompeo Commission as a jumping off point to reexamine the distinction between natural law, natural rights, and human rights in the modern day.
Abstract:This novel account of trade justice makes ideas about exploitation central, giving pride of place to philosophical ideas about global justice but also contributing to moral disputes about practical questions. On Trade Justice is a philosophical plea for a new global deal, in continuation of, but also at appropriate distance to, post-war efforts to design a fair global-governance system in the spirit of the American New Deal of the 1930s. This book is written in the tradition of contemporary analytical philosophy but also puts its subject into a historical perspective to motivate its relevance. It covers the subject of trade justice from its theoretical foundations to a number of specific issues on which the authors' account throws light. The state as an actor in the domain of global justice is central to the discussion but it also explores the obligations of business extensively, recognizing the importance of the modern corporation for trade. Topics such as wages injustice, collusion with authoritarian regimes, relocation decisions, and obligations arising from interaction with suppliers and sub-contractors all enter prominently. Another central actor in the domain of trade is the World Trade Organization. The WTO needs to see itself as an agent of justice. This book explores how this organization should be reformed in light of the proposals it makes. In particular, the WTO needs to endorse a human-rights and development-oriented mandate. Overall, this book hopes to make a theoretical contribution to the creation of an exploitation-free world.
In this rigorous and timely study, Arthur Isak Applbaum argues that adherence to procedure is not enough: even a properly chosen government does not rule legitimately if it fails to protect basic rights, to treat its citizens as political equals, or to act coherently.
How are we to reconcile every person’s entitlement to freedom with the necessity of coercive law? Applbaum’s answer is that a government legitimately governs its citizens only if the government is a free group agent constituted by free citizens. To be a such a group agent, a government must uphold three principles. The liberty principle, requiring that the basic rights of citizens be secured, is necessary to protect against inhumanity, a tyranny in practice. The equality principle, requiring that citizens have equal say in selecting who governs, is necessary to protect against despotism, a tyranny in title. The agency principle, requiring that a government’s actions reflect its decisions and its decisions reflect its reasons, is necessary to protect against wantonism, a tyranny of unreason.
Today, Applbaum writes, the greatest threat to the established democracies is neither inhumanity nor despotism but wantonism, the domination of citizens by incoherent, inconstant, and incontinent rulers. A government that cannot govern itself cannot legitimately govern others.
“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”
- Mathias Risse